The Oxen Ford

In the dim and far off times Oh best Beloved, Oxford was not a great Centre of Learning elegantly spread along the well tempered shores of the Thames and Cherwell rivers but a set of squalid hovels and tawdry pubs running up a gravelly hill above a minor cattle ford over the swamp that stretched from Boar’s Hill to what is now Christchurch. The Romans ignored it and it was only the arrival of St Frideswide (more of her anon) in the ninth century that the town’s fortunes began to change. Richard D’Oyley was the Norman in charge of Oxford and in 1100 he built first the castle to subdue the unruly natives. Then he built the Great Causeway over the Thames bog towards Abingdon. The Great Stone Causeway ran from the south gate of the town wall where Abingdon Rd. intersects Brewer st and out to what is now the A34. The area south of the Thames, where I live is still called Grandpont. The route traces the lines of the Saxon path and the ford over the river, the Oxen Ford.

 

So every time you cross Folly Bridge on your way to row on the river, you cross the Oxen Ford which gives its name to our Fair City and your future degree (MA Oxon). The bridge has been rebuilt many times, but in the summer hire a punt from the Head of the River and spend some time pottering in and out of the arches, (seven of them are navigable) looking up at what are almost certainly Norman hewn stones.

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